If you’re the indecisive type, don’t waste time trying to pick your new scented candle — go straight for the one that has all the scents!
Le Labo’s Santal 26 Classic Candle fills your home with notes of amber, coco, vanilla, cedar, musk, and sandalwood. Some people describe it as that fresh campfire-on-the-beach type of aroma; others say it has a deep, leathery smell that reminds them of an old cozy library. So which one is it? Give this candle a go and let us know what you think.
To be honest, we never thought we actually needed a scented candle. But after looking into it, we have absolutely no doubt that everybody needs one (or two or three) in their life.
Can you think of a better way to make your house cozier or more romantic and relaxing than lighting a beautiful candle? And then, of course, there’s the fragrance. Did you know that different scents connect to different parts of the brain and are scientifically proven to help you relax, boost your mood, improve productivity, and so much more?
So choosing the perfect candle is not as simple as it may seem. Besides fragrance and looks, there are other factors to keep in mind: What type of wax should you go for? Are some brands worth the extra money? We conducted weeks of research to give you the answers. And while we were at it, we ranked our top ten favorite scented candles.
The Scented Candles We RAVE About
The ancient Egyptians invented the first candle by soaking long reeds in animal fat around 3,000 years ago. Doesn’t sound so appealing, does it?
The Romans, though, are the ones who developed candles with a wick by dipping rolled papyrus into melted beeswax. These rudimentary candles were used to light homes and bring solemnity to religious ceremonies.
In China, candles were made using rolled rice paper for the wick, and wax from insects combined with seeds. In Japan, candles were made of wax extracted from nuts.
We’ve come a long way since then, but candles have always played an important and central role in our lives. Just think of all the religious festivals, from Hanukkah to Easter, all the romantic candlelit dinners, the relaxing bubble baths, not to mention all the candles we’ve blown out over our birthdays. Maybe it’s better not to think about that one too much!
Then of course, there are the candles we keep to decorate our home and make it smell delightful. All we can say is, we’re glad we’ve moved on from animal fat!
But what exactly are candles made of these days? Here’s a brief guide:
Paraffin wax is one of the most versatile and common waxes used today, even in some of the more expensive candles. But paraffin isn’t universally loved, quite the contrary in fact. Paraffin is a byproduct of the crude oil refinement process, so people often debate its effect on the environment and on our health.
Many people who prefer eco-friendly products (hopefully that’s all of us!) do not want to use something associated with crude oil, but others argue that using a byproduct that would otherwise be discarded helps reduce waste.
Fans of paraffin say it is ideal for scented candles since it holds and expands the scent better than other types of wax. Others say it releases “soot,” which isn’t exactly true or false.
Let us explain: All types of candles can release some soot, depending on the quality of the candle and how it is burning, so paraffin isn’t necessarily any worse than other waxes. All candles release different particles into the air, but as long as you choose a good quality brand, you can rest assured that you’re going to be just fine.
Soy wax is relatively new to the candle scene, but it has taken hold thanks to the growing demand for natural candles. Soy waxes are made from 100% soybean oil, but they are often blended with other waxes, each having different strengths.
For example, soy wax has a slightly longer burn time, while paraffin wax has a better “‘scent throw,” meaning paraffin candles generally fill a space with scent better than other types.
Palm wax is similar to soy in that it is made from natural oil; in this case, palm oil. The majority of palm oil is used in food, but about 25% goes into products such as detergents and candles, where it usually produces a feathered effect, which is quite pretty.
However, there is a BIG problem with palm oil: The industry is linked to issues such as deforestation, climate change, animal cruelty, and the abuse of indigenous people in the countries where it is produced, so many people choose to stay well clear.
Thankfully though, there is a growing interest in organic palm farming, so some candle companies use certified palm wax. Be sure to check the label or ask the brand about its sourcing.
Beeswax is the original candle wax, and was used thousands of years ago — some beeswax has even been found in the Egyptian pyramids! This type of wax is all natural and is a byproduct from making honey, so this one might be for you if you’re into natural, eco-friendly products.
Since beeswax is infused with honey, it has a sweet fragrance that varies slightly depending on where and from which kinds of plants and flowers it was produced. Pure beeswax candles also release negative ions that can bind with toxins and help remove them from the air, so they actually make the air cleaner!
Now you know what modern scented candles are made of, keep reading to find out how we chose our favorite candles. And then keep going and read the best bit, our top ten scented candles, ranked!
To create our top 10 scented candles ranking, we spent weeks carefully scrolling through dozens of websites and examining hundreds of ratings, reviews, and comments from users and consumer journalists. We then created a robust scoring system by taking an aggregate of those scores across different categories and compiled our rankings based on a scale from 0-100.
Our methodology is based on a weighted score of a variety of factors, including:
- Scent points
- Wax type
- Burn time
- Value for the money
- Overall quality and design
Then we took an average of those scores for a final metascore and built our ranking from there. Read on to find out more about our favorite candles!
Best Scented Candles
Santal 26 Classic Candle
Le Labo, the company that makes these gorgeous candles, was born in France but raised in New York, working with a worldwide community of craftspeople to bring customers unique and high quality fragrances. The attention to detail also shows that each product, whether a candle or a perfume, is crafted with attention and love.
Our overall favorite candle is their classic Santal 26 soy wax, vegan candle that is hand-poured in Mississippi. It looks simple yet refined, and fills your room with gentle, smoky scents. This candle comes in a sleek glass vase, but you can also get them in cool vintage tins (or an impressive concrete pot, if you’re looking for a huge candle and you have $460 to spare).
Another lovely touch is that you can personalize the label by adding a little message, making it a really great gift.
- 60-hour burn time
- Unique scent
- Personalized label
- Some users report a smoky wick
Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia Home Candle
Just like the equivalent perfume, this candle is both fruity and floral without being sickly sweet: Notes of patchouli, woods, and amber mellow out the aroma of just ripe pears and freshly-cut freesias, striking a balance between uplifting and opulent.
Each candle comes in a simple and elegant glass holder, and you can choose between luxury, home, and travel candles. This one is a home candle, but it’s luxurious enough for us.
If you’re aiming higher, though, go for the luxury option. It weighs 88 ounces, burns for 230 hours, and costs $455! Go for this candle if you seriously want to make a statement in your home, or even better if you run a spa or trendy boutique.
Although we love this candle, some customers are disappointed by Jo Malone’s lack of clarity on the type of wax used, so it is unclear whether this is soy, paraffin, or a different kind of wax. Hopefully Jo Malone will shed some light soon.
- Stylish holder
- Unique scents
- Size options
- Undisclosed wax type
- Short burn time (45 hours)
Homesick Scented Candle
As you may know, scent is very closely tied to memory, more than any other sense. That’s why Homesick Candles use their complex fragrances to bring back memories of your childhood, depending on where you grew up.
These hand-poured, soy wax candles are the product of long consultations with locals from each place they represent: New York smells like pumpkins and apple orchards, while Tennessee’s rich cultural heritage is condensed into notes of steeped bergamot, single-malt whiskey, and magnolia.
We love the Southern California candle, but it might not be for you if you’re not into very floral fragrances (it’s like sitting next to a huge, freshly-cut bouquet). Along with the notes of rose, carnation, and jasmine, you’ll also get a dose of deliciously zesty orange and lemon, with a hint of sea breeze.
- Burns for 60-80 hours
- Natural soy
- Reminds you of home!
- Some scents are very strong
- Inconsistent quality
- May not remind you of home
Molton Brown Single Wick Candle — Coco and Sandalwood
Close your eyes and imagine you’re on a tropical island, surrounded by fruit trees and flowers. What can you smell? Some freshly cut coconut perhaps, notes of fragrant jasmine, earthy sandalwood, and the balsamic scent of copahu. If that’s the case, you’re either in the Philippines, or you’re lucky enough to be inhaling the heavenly perfume of Molton Brown’s Coco and Sandalwood candle.
Molton Brown’s story starts in a little salon in Mayfair, London, where small scale artisans began making natural hair care products with unusual herbal ingredients. Fascinated with travel, the people at Molton Brown began looking for interesting ingredients abroad to incorporate into their collection.
This candle (you may have guessed) is made with Filipino coconut, and has an exotic yet homey fragrance, with the earthiness of vetiver, cedarwood, and sandalwood perfectly balancing the exotic blend. It has a burn time of about 40 hours.
- Good value for money
- Researched fragrances
- Classy design
- Food grade paraffin wax
- Short burn time
- Spotty customer service
Fresh Linen — Luxury Scented Soy Candle
This wonderful candle is inexpensive but doesn’t scrimp on quality, making it our favorite budget option. For under $15, you get a natural, eco-friendly, pure soy wax candle that is biodegradable and paraben-free.
We chose the fresh linen scent because customers say it is lovely, fresh, and distinctive but not too strong, infusing the whole home. Perfect for when you just want the place to smell good, but don’t want any particular perfume wafting around the house.
Lulu Candles uses all-American ingredients, from the wax to the cotton in the wick, and use essential oils to give you true aromatherapy relaxation.
- Great value
- Natural soy wax
- Breakable jar
- Faint fragrance
- Inconsistent burn times
Paddywax Candles Apothecary Collection Jar Candle
What’s better than a scented candle? FOUR scented candles! If you know RAVE, you also know we like a good value set, and this is one of those. But it’s not only the quantity: Paddywax Candles are great in their own right, thanks to their natural ingredients, long burn time (around 56 hours) and quirky design.
Vintage, amber-colored jars are filled with natural wax for this collection, and feature unusual scents such as Amber & Smoke, Sea Salt & Sage, and our favorite, Tobacco & Patchouli.
We love the smoky, earthiness of the tobacco combined with the sweet and flowery patchouli, which gives your house a vintage feel. Keep in mind that these candles are not very strong, so don’t rely on them to infuse large areas.
- Soy wax sourced from U.S. farms
- Long burn time
- All natural
- Design may not be for everyone
- Glass jars damage easily
- Not very strong scent
Diptyque Feuille de Lavande Scented Candle
The relaxing scent of this Diptyque scented candle is strong and elegant, but isn’t overpowering. Instead, it makes your whole home feel like a field in Provence on a warm summer’s day. This candle also has all the soothing properties of lavender, which isn’t surprising: The whole bush goes into making one, from the strongly scented flowers to the leaves and the stem.
Diptyque scented candles are made with a blend of vegetable and paraffin waxes, but because each fragrance contains a unique mix of natural ingredients, Diptyque custom blends specific wax formulas designed to work differently with each candle scent.
Now, a word on the brand: If you know just a little bit about scents, you have heard of Diptyque, the Paris-based luxury company that produces perfumes, colognes, and skincare. If you’re new to the world of scented candles, Diptyque is a popular “gateway” candle.
- 60-hour burn time
- Real lavender calming properties
- Prestigious brand
- Vegetable/paraffin wax
- Everyone seems to have one
Yankee Scented Candle French Vanilla
Here at RAVE we love helping you discover new exciting products and brands, but there is no denying that very often products are popular for a reason. Yankee Candle is a case in point: America’s favorite candles are known for their bright colors, strong distinctive scents, and variety of designs.
We love their classic French Vanilla candle, which smells less like a vanilla cake than it does a light, natural vanilla pod. So if you’re into sugary-sweet vanilla scents, you might want to look for something stronger. Candles like this one come in a nice, sturdy glass jar with a glass lid.
Yankee Candle Company does not provide complete ingredient lists for their candles, and they are not legally required to do so, unfortunately. The company does say though that their wicks are pure cotton, while consumers report that the wax is made of refined paraffin. So, it’s not for you if you prefer all-natural wax.
- Trusted brand
- Good value
- Cotton wicks
- Refined paraffin wax
- Some scents can be very strong
- Unattractive labels
LA JOLIE MUSE Ylang Ylang Aromatherapy Scented Candle
If you really want your candle to look good, as well as smell great, take a look at La Jolie Muse’s Ylang Ylang candle. We absolutely love its quirky and stylish container, which will undoubtedly make it an eye catching centerpiece in your home.
All of Jolie Muse’s Aromatherapy candles are wonderful, but we love this ylang ylang option. This classic essential oil is one of the most fragrant around, so it should come as no surprise that it is used in the world’s most famous perfume, the classy Chanel No. 5.
It is also a natural sedative, antiseptic, aphrodisiac, and antidepressant, so this candle has a lovely calming effect when you light it. We don’t know anyone who doesn’t need a little bit of that! These candles are made with refined perfume-grade fragrances and 100% natural waxes which are biodegradable and eco-friendly.
- Good value
- All natural
- Gorgeous design
- Containers easily damaged
- Some find the scent peculiar
- Inconsistent quality
Nest Fragrancesì Classic Candle — Sicilian Tangerine
This candle is a fruity, juicy blend of Sicilian tangerine and bergamot, giving it a Mediterranean feel, while the passion fruit and mango add a tropical vibe. The scent is unusual and really delicious, and it seems like customers can’t get enough.
Nest Fragrances’ candles also look pretty stylish, right down to the packaging. However, they are fairly small for the price, so the fragrance doesn’t fill big spaces. Still, this option is great for a bedroom, or if you want a light fragrance in your living room.
This candle is made with a blend of soy and paraffin as well as other “cosmetic grade” ingredients.
- Stylish candle and packaging
- People LOVE this scent
- 50-hour burn time
- Paraffin wax
How can I tell if a scented candle is good quality?
The National Candle Association (NCA) strongly recommends that you purchase candles from a reputable manufacturer. Additionally, all NCA members adhere to strict candle standards and have pledged their commitment to quality products and practices. You can visit NCA’s Directory of Member Candle Manufacturers to see which brands are members.
Secondly, pay attention to the kind of wax used. The most commonly used is paraffin wax, followed by other types of synthetic wax and natural waxes such as beeswax, soy, palm, and natural blends. Unfortunately, manufacturers do not have to disclose which wax they use, but you can usually find out by reading consumer websites and reviews (like ours!).
Natural waxes are usually regarded as cleaner and of higher quality, but this fact is not universally accepted. Read more above to make up your mind about types of wax.
You can also tell the quality of a candle by looking at it: Good quality candles should have even wax without cracks or blemishes, and an even color (unless of course the unevenness is part of the design).
Are scented candles dangerous?
The short answer is no — if your candle is good quality and from a reputable brand (like the ones in our ranking) you can be confident they will burn cleanly and safely.
But you still have to keep a few things in mind: First of all, candles are an open flame, albeit a small one, so they should be treated as such. Don’t leave your candles unattended for long, and make sure they are not too close to flammable materials such as curtains. Always monitor your candle!
Secondly, some people worry about the scent. Whether you prefer synthetic or natural scents, remember that all fragrances approved for use in high quality candles, like all the ones in our ranking, are safe and do not release toxic chemicals.
However, if you are sensitive to fragrances and suffer from allergies or respiratory issues such as asthma, it’s always possible that a candle may trigger a negative reaction, so avoid fragrances you know you are sensitive to, or buy a smaller candle to test out before investing in a bigger one.
Finally, remember to always burn your candles in well-ventilated area!
How long do scented candles last?
Candles can technically last forever (well, almost), but they can spoil if you don’t look after them properly. Candles might lose their color, for example, especially if left in the sun for too long or kept unsealed.
Candles can also lose their scent pretty quickly, especially the “free-standing” type. That’s why, as you may have noticed, most high quality scented candles come in glass pots or other containers made of tin, ceramic, or concrete, and many even have lids to keep the fragrance locked in.
Pillar and taper scented candles may look pretty, but don’t rely on them to keep their scent. If you’re a candle fiend, you can always buy pillar candles for décor and have a few container candles to keep your house nice and perfumed.
What is the best scented candle?
Scented candles come in so many shapes, sizes, and fragrances, it can be pretty hard to choose. Personal taste aside, there are a few things to look out for when choosing your favorite candle, such as burn time and wax type (you can read more about how we chose our favorite in the Methodology section above).
Keeping this in mind, our research led us to the fantastic Le Labo Santal 26 Classic Candle, a simple but high quality scented candle infused with 26 (26!) different scent notes. We absolutely love its musky, deep yet fresh scent, and the fact that it permeates the whole room but is never overwhelming.
The thing about scented candles is that once you start buying them, it’s really hard to stop — they are addictive! But if you can stop spending money on candles for just one moment, here’s a few more things you can treat yourself to:
- Citronella Soy Wax Candles ($16): Okay, so these are technically still candles (we told you, it’s hard to stop!), but with a little difference. While they smell delicious, they also repel mosquitoes and other insects, so you can enjoy your evening drinks outdoors, and in peace!
- ASAKUKI Ultrasonic Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser ($26): If scented candles are the gateway to all scented products, essential oils are the end point. Essential oils are beneficial for soothing our nerves, helping us focus, giving energy, and sending us to sleep. Get your hands on one of these great diffusers to benefit from essential oils and their powers.
- Brazilian Hammock Chair for Indoors and Outdoors ($43): What’s the second most relaxing thing after scented candles? Hammocks, of course! Just the thought of rocking gently in this hammock chair while inhaling the sweet fragrance of a lit candle makes us want to take a nap.
- Sleep Lavender Bath Salts ($13): Speaking of relaxation, have you ever tried taking a bubble bath surrounded only by the warm glow of lit candles? No? What are you waiting for?! Add these bath salts to up your relaxation game.